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As he had wakened up that morning and dragged himself around the house, Mark had accepted that his marriage was over. He had no idea as to whether Julie had been unfaithful with Henry yet, but he was certain that she intended to do so on the cruise. He had no proof but he wasn’t naive enough to ignore all the signs – if nothing else he had read the guilt on her face when she refused to answer his question. Whatever slim chance existed to heal the wounds and repair their marriage had vanished with the smugness and arrogance he had seen last night.
Pushing that ‘send’ button with deliberate disrespect toward him had shown her true feelings and that was just more than he could accept. He was resigned to seeing her leave and enjoy her career-building, pleasure-filled cruise before coming home to find the consequences he had warned her about. To some degree he could understand her insistence on going on the cruise. Knowing her overwhelming drive to succeed, he was disappointed, if not surprised. . However, those little panties that she had bought to wear for another man changed the situation from semi-coercion to active participation on her part and changed his attitude.
He would have just let things happen and responded after the fact, presumably filing for divorce when adultery was confirmed. Now, with his anger deeper, if controlled, he would not be so placid and give Julie, and presumably Henry, a free ride. Disruption and harassment would take place. Mark sat quietly at his desk and began some serious thinking about how to mess with Julie’s mind as a starting point.
“Ok, she’s definitely back in her full-scale bitch mode and she’s not going to change so I have to. Now, what will she expect from me during the three weeks before she leaves on the conference cruise? For weeks we have been locked in a no win argument, but now that she has cancelled our fifth anniversary cruise she has won that battle. Even before that she had gotten more arrogant and supercilious and has just ignored my protests. I, in turn, have become more morose and withdrawn since I haven’t made any impression on her in getting her to change her mind.
“Two weeks ago we had that confrontation when I saw guilt written all over her face and I thought that I had made some progress when I blew up at her, but it didn’t last. She hasn’t repeated her earlier criticism and complaints that had caused that blowup and caused me to call her a bitch, but since then she just gives me scornful looks and ignores me. Since then I have been just lost for there was absolutely nothing I could do to fix it.
“I had basically given up and sat around working on my computer while hoping that something would change her mind. We’ve been living on takeout or delivery food rather than me doing any cooking. I just haven’t had the interest or heart to bother with it. Frankly, I’ll admit that that I have been acting like a wimp, but I’ve been dejected and demoralized, clinging to a shred of hope. Now I topped it off last night by actually crying! Damn, that pitying, condescending look on her face! Well, that shred of hope is gone and now I am going to be in control!
“Ok, there’s every reason for her to expect my defeated, downtrodden behavior to continue. That is what she will expect, but I will surprise her! I’m going to return to my normal solicitous and affectionate way of treating my loving wife! What could confuse her more than for me to completely ignore the whole issue and act as if there were no problem? Can I do that? Can I act that well and, if so, can I maintain it for almost three weeks? I’ve got to try. I’ll knock some of that god damn arrogance out of her when she can’t understand why I’m acting as if everything is back to normal!”
With that decision to confuse and baffle Julie and make her uncomfortable with him, Mark turned to practical steps he should take immediately. “Ok, I need positive proof that she will be with Henry Johnstone on the cruise. Why not have a nice cruise vacation myself? She doesn’t want me on that ship with her, but I think I will be there and she won’t know it.” Opening his laptop, he brought up the Royal Caribbean page, clicked on the Explorer of the Seas and checked on availability of staterooms. “Excellent! Quite a few possibilities. I’ll have to find out which cabin she is booked in and get one as near to it as I can. Now, I’ll have to find that info.
“Right, what next? I need a lawyer to get things going in case a divorce is where we go. All right, I’ll call Ed Simons and see if he can recommend one.” Mark had gotten to know Simons personally while helping make the decision between creating an IPO or, instead, being taken over by a major player. Picking up the phone he made a call and, after going through Simon’s secretary, explained his problem.
“Look Ed, I know that you don’t handle divorce cases, of course, but I thought that you could recommend someone.”
“Damn, Mark, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve got a problem like that. No, I stay with simple nikki bella says i do izle things like billion dollar financing for businesses, not difficult things like divorces! However, we are a full-service legal firm and one of our partners, Jonathon Scribner, handles divorces, usually high-profile cases. Wait a minute and I see if he can work you in.”
Putting Mark on hold, he called his partner and described the situation. “Hi Jon. Look, I have a client, Mark Schafer, on the line and he enquired about a divorce lawyer and I’d like you to see him – today if possible. Wait, I know it’s short notice and you are busy, but Mark is the liaison with us on that possible billion dollar IPO we’ve been working on.”
“Say no more! I’ll make room for him. How about 1:00 this afternoon?”
At one o’clock that afternoon Mark was introduced to Jon Scribner and, shortly afterwards, was on a first name basis. “So Jon, I have no direct proof that they’ve gone all the way yet – in fact, I doubt it. She’s never home late, no night meetings or anything like that. I’m certain, however, that she plans to sleep with him on that blasted cruise! Her face has guilt written all over it when she avoids saying who is going on that cruise with her. I’m almost certain that it is Henry Johnstone, her immediate boss”
“All right, Mark; let’s look at the whole issue. Obviously, and for good reason, you want to know if your wife is going to commit adultery on this cruise, but for the purpose of your divorce it doesn’t matter. The simplest thing is to apply for a divorce based on incompatibility. Her rejection of your long-planned honeymoon cruise and the way she has acted toward you is evidence of that. It should be simple. You have no children so that is not an issue. You own no property and your savings are limited. You have no debt to speak of. Frankly, there are no financial problems in splitting up. Your wife makes almost twice in salary as you so you could ask for alimony, but that would be silly to fight for that.
“You have a really large holding of stock and stock options in your firm, but it is totally worthless at the present time so that wouldn’t be an issue. Actually, if you were to get a divorce, right now would be the best time before an IPO or whatever makes that stock worth a whole lot of money. That’s the only sticking point I can see on trying to get a quick divorce right now. I’m certain that your wife’s lawyer would try to drag the divorce out as long as possible so that she could get a piece of that stock value which should be millions. The only reason for bringing adultery into the case would be to prevent that tactic because of the damage to her reputation.”
“Everything you say is true and getting a no fault, irreconcilable differences divorce would suit me fine. However, with the way she has acted, the lack of respect she has shown me, makes me want to punish her. I’ve warned her and threatened her with consequences and I want her to regret her behavior towards me. If I’m on the cruise with her I should be able catch them!”
“Look, Mark, I understand your position, but all you probably could get was evidence that they were together – circumstantial evidence of adultery. If you really want that proof, you need professional help. Wait a minute until I call a security agent who has offices in this building. He can help with this and something else I’m curious about.” He made the call and while they waited for him to appear, Jon continued, “This man and his company is as good as they come. All of their investigators are excellent, many of them ex-CIA, ex-FBI or other such agencies. Their resources and connections are unbelievable. They’re practically on a retainer we use them so often.’
“Look Jon, this sounds extremely expensive. Until my stock has value I have very little money to spend on this. I know how expensive Ed is in handling our financial matters so I assume that you, by yourself, will be a financial strain. I’ll have to scrounge around to pay you and I certainly can’t afford an expensive private eye, much less a security firm that a major legal firm keeps on a retainer!”
“I understand your problem – I couldn’t afford me! Ed and I talked about this over lunch and the cost of all of this to you will be minimal. Your company, with you as liaison, has hired us for, probably, an IPO which will earn us well over fifty million dollars. Your total cost for this divorce is peanuts in comparison. We think that we will simply roll your divorce costs, including any investigations, into our contingency funds and never notice them.”
“My god, Jon, that is far more than generous but it doesn’t sound too ethical.”
“No problem. You had hired us before any mention of a divorce was made. There’s no quid pro quo here, just good will like taking you out to lunch!”
“That’s a damn expensive lunch and a whole lot of good will, but I certainly appreciate it! I’ll…”
Mark’s comment was interrupted nolly izle as the door opened and a man entered. “Mark, this is Jerry Rodgers, head of Rodger’s Security, LLC. Jerry, this is Mark Schafer, a very valuable client. He’s here because he is contemplating a divorce.” He quickly summarized the case and finished with, “So Mark is almost certain that his wife and her boss have a rendezvous set up on a conference cruise for bank and financial services employees. He has no proof of what they have done so far but he is certain of their intentions. He is secretly going on the same cruise to find the facts, but I have told him that he’ll likely get only circumstantial evidence and that he needs a pro to get the real thing.”
“You’re absolutely right. If you want positive proof, oral or video it has to be recorded in their room and you can’t get that.”
“With the security on cruise ships, can you get it? That’s the kind of evidence I need, but I didn’t think that you could even get on board.”
“Look, there are thousands of cabins – they like to call them ‘staterooms’ now – on all those ships out there. Inevitably, some of those cabins are used by people like your wife and this Johnstone. Those ships are just large hotels and we treat them the same way when we want to put people under surveillance. We have contacts on the ships just as we do in hotels and, while the security is tighter, they primarily are concerned with keeping bad guys from getting on board. The cruise lines absolutely deny that surveillance occurs on their ships, but, don’t worry, we can get the evidence.”
“Good. Now, there’s another situation which I haven’t covered with Mark. This whole thing sounds funny to me. A young, pretty woman, talented no doubt, gets a sudden big promotion. Her immediate superior works closely with her. Suddenly, she is called to a senior vice president’s office where she is informed that he and the board have chosen her to attend a conference on a cruise ship. She has a major previous arrangement but she is warned by her superior that she can’t reject the assignment or her career will be destroyed. She buys it and the end result is us being here today.
“None of that makes sense. Maybe she earned the appointment but it certainly puts her under the control of her new boss. More important, boards of directors and senior vice presidents don’t discuss who goes to a conference. Even if they did and chose her, why would they give a damn if she had a prior arrangement and backed out – being sent to a free cruise is a plum assignment and there would by dozens who would love to have it? This all sounds like a set up to me.”
“I tried to tell Julie all those things but Henry Johnstone had her believing everything he said!”
“All right, Jerry, I want you to check on what sounds like a real scam to me. Obviously, the main concern here is getting information for Mark’s divorce, but we may turn this simple divorce into something much bigger. A suit for permitting or, worse, participating in something like this could be worth millions as well as punishing a bunch of predators. It leads to divorces which in where I earn my money, but I hate this kind of thing.”
“Well, as I said, I thought the whole thing with my wife sounded suspicious and I suspect that she has been seduced by an expert, but the change in her behavior and personality has shown me what I’m afraid may be the real Julie. Her desire for success and power has turned her into someone who is not the person I fell in love with. I don’t know that I can ever forgive and forget how she has acted in the last month or so unless I see a return to what she was. That behavior and her lack of respect for me is far more important to me than any sexual activities. In any case, Jerry, I’m still going on that same cruise, but you’re right, of course, about access, so I would like you to plan on bugging their stateroom – voice and pictures. In addition, I would appreciate having Julie’s cabin number as soon as possible so I can book mine.”
Mark left the lawyer’s office feeling more cheerful than he had in weeks. He was acting, not reacting. He had a plan and he had professional help in carrying it out. What a change since this morning when he dragged himself up to the bedroom – a change started by some fancy clothes and a little pair of panties! Now, he had to prepare himself for what might be the most difficult part of all. Somehow he must overcome his anger at Julie’s betrayal and act like the loving husband he had been for almost nine years. He had some experience in school plays, but this was going to be hard
As Julie drove home that night, she thought about the previous night with her depressed, almost destroyed husband and felt very despondent. She really did love him and hated seeing him so sad. There had been tears in her eyes when she had removed his shoes and covered him with a blanket last night. She had the same reaction this morning when she glanced into his office and saw him normal people izle still scrunched down in his recliner. He was hurt badly and she knew, of course, that she was the one who had caused his pain. But, despite her genuine regret, it was almost as if Johnstone had hypnotized her. She had gone into his office determined to back out of the conference cruise but now she was equally determined to go through with it.
He had convinced her once again that she had to do so to help her career and that her career, she reluctantly admitted to herself, was more important than her husband and their marriage right then. Her feelings about Mark were genuine and her intentions that morning were real, but, in truth, she wanted to be convinced. Besides, when she returned from the cruise, Mark would still be there and their honeymoon cruise would take place later. It was easy for her to discount his threats of consequences when it suited her real desires. Still, she wasn’t looking forward to a long, uncomfortable evening with a husband sunk into depression. She couldn’t help looking down on him a bit, somewhat disappointed in his seeming weakness, but, as usual guilt mounted as she approached their house. That guilt led to a stream of thought about last night’s confrontation.
“Damn, I expected a real verbal battle last night and, while I wouldn’t have liked it, I would have preferred it to what actually happened. I don’t know what got into me the way I acted when Mark explained about getting a refund for part of our honeymoon cruise. I was so smug and disrespectful when I hit ‘send’ before he even turned around. I really hurt him and he just gave up. Unbelievably, he had actually cried! In all these years I’ve never seen him cry about anything! Boy, that quote from “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” really got to me. Did I really kill something between us? Did he mean that I killed our marriage? I’m scared and worried about how he reacted, but I just can’t believe he won’t get over it!
She got to the door and actually was reluctant to go inside. She had intended to stop and pick up some Chinese food for supper but she forgot. They’d have to order something delivered. She remembered how nice it had been to come home and find dinner cooked and almost ready to eat. Mark loved her and enjoyed making things enjoyable for her and now he just didn’t seem to care. She just couldn’t believe how he had fallen apart in the last two weeks – and it was all her fault!
She knew that she was acting like a bitch, but she just couldn’t help herself. Part of that was the guilt that wouldn’t go away. What she was doing with Henry was wrong and it would be worse on the cruise – she knew that she was going to be unfaithful. She hated that but she knew that it would help her career and that she was willing to have sex with Henry to get that help!
So, with a muddled and confused mind, Julie opened the door to what would be another drab and dreary evening with a morose husband and pick-up food. Probably the biggest surprise of her life was the smell of dinner cooking and the greeting of a smiling, seemingly happy husband as she stepped in!
Mark greeted her with, “Hi honey, you’re just in time. Sit down and relax for a few minutes while I get everything finished up!” He gave her a hug and, even a quick kiss – the first in over two weeks – and handed her a small glass of wine.
Julie felt that she must be in a dream world, the opposite of a nightmare. She thought, “What in hell happened? There’s no way on earth that Mark can be acting like this! Something certainly cheered him up, but what could possibly cause this transformation. I expected to find him completely beaten down but he’s back to normal – heavens, he even fixed dinner which he hasn’t done in weeks! What’s going on?”
Mark wanted her to be confused and it appeared that, without doubt, he had done so. He looked at her with what appeared to be genuine affection, saying, “Ok, everything is ready. Let’s eat! I assume that you are hungry.”
“I certainly am and everything looks wonderful.”
The dinner was very good, but, surprisingly, it was also very enjoyable personally, much as it had for years. They settled back into their normal roles without difficulty. Julie put aside the wonder of what had happened to Mark and he found that being with her in this accustomed way didn’t really take much acting. Of course, they were both on their best behavior and nothing controversial came up.
The problem, of course, was that this no longer was the normal and a cauldron of discord existed right below the surface. That was Monday. On Tuesday they went out to eat at a small restaurant which they liked and the conversation was banal but pleasant. On Wednesday, however, the inevitable conflict happened.
They were conversing about a number of things, such as Mark’s expectation that his company probably would move to an IPO or sale by the first of the year, at least by spring. That was good news and they shared it happily. Then, Julie made a serious mistake. Mark’s changed behavior had lulled her into believing that her fears had been baseless and that he had accepted the inevitable. She certainly didn’t intend to upset him but, with a rather smug, self-assured look, she started to talk about her cruise and conference.
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